The Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday approved booster shots for millions of elderly or otherwise vulnerable Americans, launching a new phase in the vaccination campaign against Covid-1 in the United States. CDC Director Dr. R. Rochelle Walensky signed a series of recommendations by a panel of advisers late Thursday night. Counselors said boosters should be given to those 65 years of age or older, nursing home residents and those aged 50 to 64 who have risky health issues. They will be given an additional dose at least six months after their last Pfizer shot.
However, Walensky decided to make a recommendation that the panel rejected.
The panel voted against it on Thursday, saying people between the ages of 18 and 64 who are healthcare workers or get other jobs can get boosters that increase their risk of contracting the virus.
But Walensky disagreed and withdrew the recommendation, noting that such a move was consistent with the FDA’s decision to approve booster earlier this week. The class he included included people who lived in institutional environments that increased their risk of exposure, such as prisons or homeless shelters, as well as healthcare workers.
The panel proposed a booster option for 18 to 49 year olds who have chronic health problems and want one. But advisers refuse to go further and refuse to open boosters for otherwise healthy front-line healthcare workers who are not at risk of serious illness but want to avoid even mild infections.
The panel voted 9 to 6 to reject that proposal. But Walensky decided to ignore the advisory committee’s advice on the matter. In a decision a few hours after the panel adjourned, Walensky issued a statement saying he had reinstated the recommendation.
“As CDC director, it is my job to acknowledge where our work can have the greatest impact,” Walensky said in a statement late Thursday night. “At CDC, we are tasked with analyzing complex, often incomplete data in order to make concrete recommendations that are conducive to health. In an epidemic, even in the midst of uncertainty, we must take steps that we hope will bring the greatest benefits. ”
Experts say making their first shots obsolete remains a top priority and the panel fought over whether the booster debate was distracting from that goal.
All three of the Covid-1 vaccines used in the United States are still highly protective against serious illness, hospitalization, and death, even with the spread of the highly contagious delta. But only 122 million Americans have been fully vaccinated, or only 55% of the population.
Dr. Vanderbilt University. “We can give people a booster, but that’s not really the answer to this epidemic,” said Helen Kip Talbot. “Hospitals are full because people don’t get vaccinated. We are refusing to care for people who deserve care because we are not infected with covid-positive disease.
Thursday’s decision represents the dramatic scaling of the Biden administration’s plan announced last month, which provides helpers for almost everyone to enjoy their protection. Late Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration, like the CDC panel, signed the Pfizer booster for a narrower section of the population than the White House imagined.
The Booster Plan has brought significant changes to the nation’s vaccination campaign. Britain and Israel are already giving third-round shots because of strong objections from the World Health Organization that poor countries do not have enough for the initial dose.
Walensky stressed at Thursday’s meeting that vaccination without vaccines is the top goal “here in America and around the world.”
Walensky admits that information on who needs a booster right now is “not perfect.” “Yet collectively they make a picture for us,” he said, “and that’s what they have at the moment for us to decide on the next stage of this epidemic.”
The CDC panel insisted that its recommendations would be changed if new evidence showed that more people needed boosters.
CDC advisers have expressed concern for the millions of Americans who received modern or Johnson & Johnson shots at the start of the vaccine rollout. The government has not yet considered booster for those brands and has no information on whether it is safe or effective to mix and match them and give those people Pfizer shots.
“I don’t understand how this afternoon we can say to people 65 or older, ‘You’re at risk of serious illness and death, but only half of you can protect yourself right now,'” said Dr. Sarah Long says of Drexel University.
About 26 million Americans received their last Pfizer dose at least six months ago, about half of them aged 65 or older. It is not clear how many more will meet the CDC panel’s booster qualifications.
CDC data show that vaccines still provide strong protection against serious illness for all ages, but there is a slight reduction in the elderly. And human immunity against mild infections appears to be declining months after the initial vaccination.
For most people, if you’re not in the group recommended for a booster, “it’s really because we think you’re well-protected,” says Dr. Kaiser Permanent Colorado. Matthew Daily says.
Public health experts involved in Thursday’s decision said people looking for a third dimension at a drug store or other site would not need to prove eligibility.
Even with the introduction of the booster, anyone who received only the first two doses would still be considered fully vaccinated, according to Dr. Kathleen Dulling of the CDC. This is an important question for people in an important part of the country where you need to show proof of vaccination to eat in a restaurant or enter other places of business.
There are a few risks among those who may benefit from the booster, the CDC concluded. Serious side effects from the first two Pfizer doses are extremely rare, including inflammation of the heart that sometimes occurs in young men. Israel’s data, which has given nearly 100 million people – mostly 600 and more – a third Pfizer dose, reveals no red flag.
The United States has already approved third doses of the Pfizer and modern vaccines for cancer patients and some people with weakened immune systems, such as transplant recipients. Other Americans, healthy or not, have in some cases been able to get a booster just by asking.
The Associated Press’s Department of Health and Science is assisted by the Department of Science Education at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. AP is solely responsible for all content.